Bodycams to boost ambulance crews’ safety
Wednesday 2 June
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is rolling out body-worn cameras in a bid to reduce violence and aggression against colleagues.
All frontline ambulance crews in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire will be able to wear the cameras, following a significant increase in verbal abuse and physical assaults from patients and other members of the public.
The devices will be used from this summer for three years, and could be used to provide crucial evidence for prosecution cases against offenders.
The project is part of a national rollout of body-worn cameras intended to prevent attacks on ambulance colleagues.
It comes after successful trials in London and the North West.
Paramedic Mike Jones, who is SWASFT’s Violence Reduction Lead, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide body-worn cameras to better protect all of our crews throughout the South West.
“Sadly our people continue to face a high and rising level of unacceptable behaviour while trying to provide emergency care to patients. This is having a profound and lasting impact on them, their colleagues and loved ones.
“We hope these cameras will deter many people from abusing our people, and know they could also help to prosecute those who do cause harm.
“They should also make our crews feel safer at work, and be able to do their jobs without fear of attack.
“Please respect our people, and help them to help you.”
SWASFT colleagues reported 1,917 incidents of violence and aggression from patients and other members of the public during the 12 months until 23 May 2021.
The figures included 588 verbal abuse incidents, 474 aggressive behaviour incidents, and 345 physical assaults.
They represent a 38% increase compared to 1,387 incidents reported during the previous year.
The Government announced in the Queen’s Speech on 11 May that it is protecting emergency service workers by doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting people in the emergency services from 12 months to 2 years.